The Major League team standings are closer than ever.

Eye Candy’s dominant lead took a dramatic hit in MLSJ San Miguel de Allende after a comparatively disastrous 24 fault performance landed them outside the medal rounds. The League’s most winning team now have just a four point lead in the team standings. They’re looking to make a course correction in Monterrey.

Crusaders are climbing the ranks, now at 42 points after their leg seven win. Lucky Charms hold down third spot on 35 points and just seven points separate positions four through eight.

MLSJ commentator Steven Wilde (aka Steven with the good hair) and Concurso La Silla Sport Director/legendary course designer Leopoldo Palacios break down the teams competing this week in Monterrey.

Steven Wilde: Let’s start with the order they’re going to go in for the draw. The Blazing 7s are going to go first. They’re a team that are actually in last in the championship at the moment, but literally a couple of points moving up from, say, eighth up to about fifth place. Let’s talk three riders: Cara Raether Carey, Nicolette Hirt, and the one I’m going to really concentrate on, Rowan Willis, the Australian in there. You’ve watched him jump quite a few times.

Leopoldo Palacios: Rowan is a fantastic rider. Always he is winning a lot and he’s a super rider and I think he will give a lot of power to that team.

Steven: OK, so look out for Rowan Willis for the Blazing 7s. Let’s talk Roadrunners. Roadrunners are currently fourth in the championship overall. Christian Heineking, Kaitlin Campbell and Kyle King, a strong one here. Christian already had some good solid results. Kaitlin won the opening class here, and Kyle King has been on the podium in the Grand Prix. What are your thoughts?

Leopoldo: Kyle has very good horses now and he’s coming hard. Kaitlin Campbell is good and all the [riders on this] team are this strong. I think the all teams here have a chance. It’s not that one team is way over the others.

Steven: Let’s talk about the more the local team, Otomi Warriors. Nicolas Pizarro, Daniel Rihan, and John Perez, who’s also got a link back here in history too. As the local team, they’ve got a lot riding on them.

Leopoldo: Yes, and they are good riders, but Nicolas Pizarro is very strong rider. For me, he’s [top]. John Perez is a very good rider with a lot of experience—he’s jumped in every big show in the world. And Daniel Rihan is a very good young rider. He’s the rookie of the team, but he’s very good and I think here [at Concurso La Silla], he won a Grand Prix or was second. Maybe he can repeat [that performance] and do well.

Steven: OK, so Otomi Warriors potential for contention. Eye Candy, the team currently leading the Championship now, just down to a four point lead—they got squeezed over the last stage there. Eye Candy’s team is Conor Swail, who already had a big win on day one, Jacqueline Steffens and Paul O’Shea. You’ve got the two Irish riders sandwiching in the Canadian.

Leopoldo: The Irish are very dangerous (laughs).

Steven: In many ways!

Leopoldo: The Irish they are always good riders and fast riders and in this team competition, I hope they go to the second round and the third round. They are very dangerous. They are fast and very clever and [Jacqueline] is a good rider too.

Steven: Well Conor Swail, they’re looking to build on his win earlier on this week. Diamond Devils and talking young guns in there, Sam Walker, who was also in the top position here this week, Natalie Dean and Erynn Ballard. Erynn Ballard has been here before. She’s got a little bit of form.

Leopoldo: Yes, Erynn has been some years ago here. She knows the place and she’s a wonderful rider and she has good horses. Sam Walker is a good rider and Natalie Dean, I saw her a few weeks ago and jumping very, very nice.

Here the sport is a little bit different than other places. The first thing our poles are longer. You know, I am an old fashion guy and I’m working with in old fashion material. Always the course designers come here and say, ‘this is old fashion.” The fashion is what it is. [Here] it is different, and I think it’s good for the sport.

Steven: Let’s talk the team that finished top in the last Mexican leg: The Crusaders. revamped team for the Mexican legs, of course, Samuel Parot, Patricio Pascal and Juan Carlos Garcia. They’re staying with the same team they jumped in San Miguel de Allende. And it’s definitely got a Latin flavor.

Leopoldo: This is a very strong team. This is a lot of experience there. Juan Garcia is a rider that I’ve known since he was a child, like Daniel Bluman. He’s Italian [now]. He was Colombian and when I started course designing, I designing championship of children’s and juniors and seeing him there. He’s a tough competitor. Juan Carlos is a very good rider after Patricio, a Daniel is very fast. If you see in a Otomi, he was the first . He have a pole. But he was one of the fastest and they have Samuel is always a fighter somewhere. And he’s like an old fox. He knows, he knows what to do.

Steven: And so coming into those final couple of teams, we’ve got A.I.M. United in there going last. But just before that, Lucky Charms. Now you talk to experienced riders Shane Sweetnam and Jordan Coyle in there again to the Irish, but sandwiched between them to Andreas Azcarraga and Azcarraga family fabulous history both in all of the venues here in Mexico.

Leopoldo: This family is a fantastic. The father was for me one of the best riders not in Mexico, they have a worldwide quality and he always very competitive. He’s been in the Olympic Games and competitive, fifth place, and he transmit [that drive] to these boys. They are fighters and they try to do the best and they are good. They are horsemen. I think he can be a good partner for the two experience riders to do a good job,

Steven: So they get in there fighting and maybe with a few rugby tackles as well. A.I.M. United, final team to go in that first round: Ashlee Bond, Eugenio Garza and Daniel Bluman. We’re putting them all on a pretty level playing field, but that one stands out.

Leopoldo: This is a very good team and it’s good to have a Mexican rider from the house and I hope they do good. Daniel is he’s one of the best riders today. He’s in the top ranking today and he’s one of the riders there with the best [world] ranking here. And Daniel, he is a competitor. I’ve known him since he was a child in Colombia. He’s from Israel, but he was a Colombian rider in reality and he’s like my son. And Ashlee, she’s pretty fast, and she is difficult to beat when these speed coming in play. Conor Swail and her can be a good match [in the jump off rounds].

I hope we have these two to see one to one to see who is faster!

Steven: We’re looking for maybe an Ashlee Bond-Conor Swail ride off at the end of this.

Leopoldo, thank you for inviting us into the house, into this fabulous set up. And of course, to the family here. It’s been it’s been an amazing few days, but we’ve got an amazing a few more days to come.

Feature image: ©MLSJ/Lindsay Brock